(annual re-post) Black Sheep of the White Nights

I’m excited about Nuit Blanche tonight.  It’s a really fun concept, and that’s why so many cities around the world have duplicated the dusk-to-dawn festival.  There many different names for it, like “La Noche En Blanco” or “Balta Nakts”, but they all have one thing in common:  None of these cities have named their arts festival after a corporate sponsor.  Oh, except Toronto.

Sponsorship arrangements require good negotiation skills.  It should go something like this:

ScotiaBank: “Hi, we’d like to sponsor your arts festival”.
City of Toronto: “Sure.  Thanks”
SB: “We’d like to put our logo on all printed materials, and be recognised properly for our contribution”
TO: “Sure, that seems fair”
SB: “Um, we’d also like you to name the entire event after our bank”
TO: “No, that’s not really appropriate.  Dozens of other cities across the world host Nuit Blanche, and there isn’t really a pattern of selling the naming rights.”
SB: “Ok, never hurts to ask!  haha”
TO: (smiles politely)

Instead it went like this:

ScotiaBank: “Hi, we’d like to sponsor your arts festival”.
City of Toronto: “Sure.  Thanks”
SB: “We’d like to put our logo on all printed materials, and be recognised properly for our contribution”
TO: “Sure, that seems fair”
SB: “Um, we’d also like you to name the entire event after our bank”
TO: “ok”
SB: “We want to establish a clear communications protocol, that ensures that our company name is used every time the City uses the words “Nuit Blanche”.  For example, when the Mayor Tweets about Nuit Blanche, he should call it by its full name “ScotiaBank Nuit Blanche”.  Essentially we’re asking for corporate product placement in all and any publicly-funded communications from the City.
TO: “Yeah, cool.  Whatever.”

Picture 5

Click here for the original post I wrote about this in 20o7.  I will continue to re-post this each year until the City changes its policy or until someone can give me a good reason why Toronto shouldn’t be expected to secure funding like all the other cities do.

In the meantime, I encourage people to subvert the sponsorship arrangement by referring to Nuit Blanche in your Status Updates, Tweets and blogs as BMO Nuit Blanche.



18 responses to “(annual re-post) Black Sheep of the White Nights

  1. Cause giving another bank (who invested no money in the event) the press makes makes more sense? My suggestion pick a non-profit org or you create a fake company. Same effect, less eyebrow raising.

  2. How about Alterna Nuit Blanche?

  3. i’m of exactly the opposite mind on this: i love that a bank is sponsoring an all-night art fair. and that they’ve been doing it for years, and that they “own” some of the branding. it’s the best thing they could do with their sponsorship dollars, in my mind, because their high-profile viability forces other sponsors with serious money to think about putting their money into something as cool as this. sure, it might be a lot better to change they way the arts are funded, period: public dollars (with the city of toronto owning the branding as lead sponsor – that would be terrific for the city) would be a whole different model. in the absence of all that, it’s great to see a bank support art and send notice to the sponsorship community that it’s a good use of one’s dollars.

  4. Have to agree with Max. It’s a win-win situation. With a significant sponsorship commitment, naming rights these days are pretty much de rigeur for the presenting sponsor of a high profile event. If Scotiabank invested significant dollars, they have an absolute right to bank that recognition and brand the event… and if that recognition is executed effectively (as it certainly is in the case of Scotiabank Nuit Blanc and TD Canada Trust Jazz Festival) it encourages other institutions and corporations to look at opportunities similar to this to promote their own corporate citizenship and philanthropic commitment – which is a great win for events / organizations seeking sponsorship dollars.

  5. Thank you for writing about this. No one ever seems to discuss/complain about this flagrant, obnoxious sponsorship. It drives me crazy that a bank’s name has to be all over it. It almost ruins the night for me; I can’t enjoy the event nearly as much as I would if the whole thing wasn’t put under this corporate umbrella.

    Also, did you notice that the pdf maps available on the Nuit Blanche website show the locations of all of said bank’s ATMs? It’s so shameless and ridiculous.

  6. Sue could make the exact same argument for corporate sponsorship of any public institution. I’m sure the “McDonald’s Hospital for Sick Children” would also encourage other corporations to look at opportunities to “promote their corporate citizenship,” and would result in similar corporate donations to worthy causes.

    But most people believe that things that are publicly owned — like hospitals — should not be so crudely re-named just because a private corporation buys them off.

    So why is it acceptable for the arts, and a publicly-owned event like Nuit Blanche?

  7. Having the sponsor’s name in the title is also a matter of taste and manners.

    wouldn’t it be respectful of scotiabank to trust the intelligence of Toronto art enthusiasts’ intelligence a bit more and assume they will actually find and remember which corporation generously sponsored their fun night out instead of flashing its name all over the city?

    also I second Ryan, maybe pick a different kind of institution that contrasts what a corporate bank stands for.

  8. Shamsuzzaman Tutul

    I am living in a thirdworld country , I am verymuch inspired after reading your comments , so many things we can’t express easily which you can , it is very interesting metter toi me . Thanks to all commentators .

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  10. Such a shame when artists or those who indicate they love art, criticize the hands that feed them. Way to scare away non-taxpayer funding.

  11. I’m scared!

  12. Hey SJ, you should try actually reading the post. There is nothing in the post that suggests that the event shouldn’t be funded by Scotia Bank, nor criticising ScotiaBank for funding it.

    I just had kite festival this weekend, 100% funded by corporate and non-profit sponsorships. Sponsorships are cool. A great way to support events.

    But selling naming rights to events, is just lame. It’s a sell-out. It’s an unnecessary result of poor negotiating skills found in one city: Toronto.

    (BTW, there’s not much difference between “tax-paper funding” and corporate funding. Guess where SB gets all the that money to throw around? From their customers (also known as ‘people’ or ‘taxpayers’). We (you and me) pay for all events, all infrastructure, all everything. Whether we are taxpayers, or customers, we are the only source of funding there is. The rest is smoke and mirrors.)

  13. I was thinking about riding in Rocco Rossi’s “Margarine Ride for Heart” charity event on the Don Valley Parkway. I would have preferred that the event had been sponsored by a tobacco company.

    It’s that time of year for me to buy presents for Wal-Mart Christmas and champagne for the the LCBO New Year’s Eve events.

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  17. Pingback: 2015 Villain: Scotiabank’s Fickle Sponsorship | NoIndex | Torontoist

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